I wish there was an education version of Jerome Groopman’s new book, How Doctors Think, to help us understand how teachers make decisions about students’ learning difficulties. The Groopman book examines the thought processes of various doctors, focusing especially on how -- and why -- even the best of them tend to get things wrong when diagnosing patients. As Groopman shows, the errors (up to 24 percent in some studies) have common causes: doctors aren’t listening carefully, they’re thinking of their previous patients, or they rely on experience rather than using statistical guidelines. Are teachers any better or worse at making tough decisions with little time and lots of uncertainty? More important, what are the error patterns in their decisionmaking?
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